A thread has popped up over on EduGeek.net about setting up user groups in schools … quite a step forward to have more input into how IT is set up at your school, but it is more than just about sharing a few ideas.
This isn’t too disimilar to one of the learning conversations at TeachMeet Midlands really. I put forward a few suggestions and requirements for this and will expand this a bit more.
- It has to have the backing and support of your SLT. It may have been your idea, a department idea or their idea … whatever way there needs to be backing and support from SLT.
- It has to have some defined goals, preferably some that tie into your schools’ development plan, is part of student voice and you have SLT backing that decisions / recommendations made by the group will be seriously considered.
- It needs to be tied into staff CPD to ensure that it is not just an elite few who benefit from it. The idea is that IT/ICT is a tool, so you need to work out how to get as many people using the tools and resources as possible. This means sharing by a variety of methods. It could be formal training sessions, it could be just-in-time training via video tutorial, it could be cascaded good practice within departments … the wider the range the more likely you will get uptake.
- There needs to be a good cross-section taking part in these types of groups … not just the ICT elite … get more mid-range users involved too. Enthusiasm will often be more important than ability, but it is also handy to work with ‘realists’ (not pessimists) who can be critical friends.
- Do not get disheartened if for every 10 ideas the group has only 1 gets used … it will grow over time. Eventually, you might be lucky enough to have a 50% development rate. Having good examples of who the ideas were used elsewhere can help.
- Make sure that although only a few people will attend as representatives of the large school community, the conversations / discussions / presentations / videos / software is available to as many people as possible. It is an important factor that all feel included and helps with continuity planning for the group, people will move on, members will run out of ideas or take on other groups and tasks, new or existing staff also need a chance to have their input too.
There are a number of other things that could be put into this list and feel free to suggest more links and examples, this is not a definitive list of things to do, just a starting point.
There is more work to be done on suggesting *how* student voice can have an input in to user groups … I would be interested in hearing of examples.